Jewish World Review Sept. 24, 2001 / 7 Tishrei, 5762

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Refueling capitalism -- THE military doesn't want me. I'm not terribly discreet at surveillance (ask my son). And the White House isn't taking my calls - what's a patriot to do?

Pray? Done that.

Hoist the flag? It's been flappin' in the wind for days.

Maybe right now the best thing to do is go shopping.

When terrorists attacked the World Trade Center towers, they astutely revealed what they hate about our nation. They hate not just the American people, but the American way of life. Our lush parks, our marvelous museums, our wonderful cultural centers, our libraries and universities, our joy of family life - and above all, the system of capitalism that makes it all possible.

These killers loathe capitalism; from Mom and apple pie to the corner strip mall. This is not the time to panic and start stashing cash under the mattress. This is the time to head to the store. Personally, I ran this week's errands with a vengeance.

One of the kids needed three pairs of socks, so I bought five. Three for the kid, one in the name of free market enterprise and one as a salute to the spirit of competition. We needed four boxes of trash bags for the leaves that will soon pile up in the backyard, so I stopped by the hardware store and bought six. Four for us, one in honor of the United States Mint in Denver and one in honor of the mint in Philadelphia.

After that I headed to Wal-Mart. I loaded the cart with paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, paper plates, sandwich bags and laundry detergent, each and every one made in the U.S.A. I stopped by the grocery store and, for the sake of grocery chains, the few remaining family farmers, friendly produce clerks and every beverage distributor, stocked the pantry and the freezer. The checker gave me the total and for the first time in years I didn't let out a sigh.

On the way home I stopped by the corner dry cleaners and dropped off two pairs of pants and a shirt. A small shot in the arm for small business. Then I phoned a locksmith to fix the deadbolt on the front door that we've put off repairing for months.

The mail carrier was at the box as I walked out with an envelope containing a contribution for the Red Cross. He took it off my hands and left me with nine pounds of mail-order catalogs. I normally trash them, but this time I ordered two bird feeders and a porcupine that scrapes mud off your shoes. They're Christmas gifts. For whom I don't know, but that doesn't matter.

I don't remember a lot from my college econ class, but I do remember Adam Smith's book The Wealth of Nations being key to understanding capitalism. Correct me if I'm wrong (and I'm sure a number of you will, which can only enhance the bottom line for the post office and Internet service providers), but capitalism entrusts individuals with great freedom. Individuals act as free agents pursuing their own economic interests and in the process manage to naturally bring about the greatest good for society. Smith believed if you gave individuals freedom, they would act "as if guided by an invisible hand."

After dinner the invisible hand must have been guiding me, because I went to the computer and did something I'd been avoiding for days. I rescheduled an airline flight that had been canceled the day after the attack.

I may have contributed only one airline ticket, one checkbook and one credit card, but it's a start.

JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

09/14/01: A time to mourn
09/07/01: Lack of modesty stirs the troops
08/31/01: Scholarship search an education
08/24/01: The test for parents
08/17/01: Immodest proposals
08/10/01: Trying to R-r-r-re-re-relax
08/03/01: It may be shabby and chic, but it ain't cheap
07/20/01: Bride showered with sage advice
07/13/01: Baby Bear Finds Driving "Just Right"
07/06/01: Pale at the Thought of Bronze
06/29/01: A Dog's Best Friend
06/22/01: Rethinking fatherhood
06/14/01 Don't forget to lock the door
06/07/01 How grandma punishes her kids
06/01/01 Hearing voices
05/25/01 Cyborgs for Better or Worse
05/18/01 The death of Common Sense

© 2001, Lori Borgman